Riding the Big Bear

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have a general rule that if I see any early photos of people riding or posing with giant stuffed animals I just have to own them – pretty much regardless of condition and price. I admit to paying up for this one, despite the underexposure and probably some additional fading over time – its origins probably in a wash pail of dirty and over-used developer, decades ago. Kim has already performed the miracle of Photoshop on it and it is about 40% better here than in person.

I have the impression that the person selling it believe Mickey’s presence to be the come hither factor (and I have nothing against that nice, early Mickey next to our girl except that we can barely see him), but for me it was this splendid big Steiff-like bear she has climbed aboard that does it for me! Oh to live in a time when one had a choice of posing for a souvenir tintype photo with oversized Felix or Mickey – or riding an enormous black cat or bear! Gee whiz, those were indeed the days. (And still again I ask, why do none of these giant toys turn up so I can purchase them? Unfair fate!)

This photo is another tiny guy – only about 2″x3″ and tucked into this nice cardboard frame. It would be better shown if I was willing to take it out, but I love the little holder and removing the photo would destroy the now fragile holder. You cannot see it here so well, but it has a cardboard stand on the back so the photo can stand up on those cardboard feet you see. On the back, written in clear script in pen, it says, Esther from Erica Lee. There’s something a bit odd about that – why is Erica sending photos of Esther? Perhaps she is her mom?

Despite the lack of giant toys available to pose on or with, I tend to embrace every opportunity to have a souvenir photo made. I don’t especially like photos of myself, but for some reason photo booths and other like opportunities are different and fire up my imagination and desire. When at all possible, I drag my ever-patient and handsome mate into the picture. In addition to the link for this early blog kick-off post, Pam’s Pictorama Blog Debuts, I supply some long ago photostrip of photos below.

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Mickey Too!

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Here at Deitch Studios Pictorama kicks off our summer vacation with this nice little Mickey Mouse tintype. Let me start by saying, I just love finding tintypes in these original cardboard frames when they are in good shape. What a splendid object to be handed to remember a day at a fair or seaside resort!

While Mickey Mouse photos form a decided sub-genre of my collection, this is the first addition of a tintype (or postcard) where the subject is the same sort of rent-a-Felix for a photo type which, as ongoing readers know, I find to be like Pam catnip. (There is a deep fissure of regret in my brain from having entirely missed the sale of a glorious tintype of people posing with Mickey in Katoomba. I found the listing after the fact – it went very cheap. It was years ago, but I may never fully recover.) I do have a number of photos with people clutching various off-model Mickeys and one most notable postcard which I posted about in Ugly Children, Good Toys ,where the child is seated in a toy airplane in some sort of set up with an positively and delightfully evil looking large Dean’s Rag Mickey.

Still, the fact appears to be that opportunities to have your photo taken with a Mickey Mouse the size of a small child or midget were many fewer than your chances to do so with Felix. Maybe this is due to Mickey having come on the scene slightly later than Felix, although merchandising certain caught up and surpassed Felix quickly. I purchased my Big Mickey as a store display, but I have wondered if he wasn’t actually made for this purpose instead.

Judging from her clothes, and the barely visible women behind her, I would say this is the early 1940’s which is a bit late for a tintype, although I have read that you could still have them made at fairs and whatnot in this mode as late as the 1960’s in some places. She makes for a perfect subject posed on the wagon, holding what appear to be the reigns to a pie-eyed stuffed Mickey turned dray horse. Quality of tintypes and the developing of them (usually in a dirty pail of much used developer) was all over the place and as a result many of these have faded or are fading into invisibility. However, this one is nice and crisp and fully developed. The photographer had a good eye for composition too and his or her developer was still going full throttle.

As for me, it makes me want to find a nice day trip to the shore on this August vacation of ours, complete with cotton candy and scary rides, even if posing with Felix to have our photo taken is asking too much. I will surely let you know.